Balloon Valvuloplasty

Heart valves stop opening properly and start to narrow. When this happens, patients may benefit from balloon valvuloplasty.

Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular is a leader in treating heart valves, often through catheter-based procedures. Our teams of surgeons, nurses and technicians have helped countless residents from Oregon and all over the West Coast return to heart valve health.

What are the heart valves?

Your heart is divided into different chambers and the valves serve the critical function of connecting these chambers and guiding blood flow as your heart contracts and pumps out oxygen-rich blood.

Your heart has four main valves:

Tricuspid valve: Works to prevent back flow (or regurgitation) of blood back into your right atrium (one of your heart’s chambers).

Pulmonary valve: Allows blood to flow into the lungs, where it receives oxygen.

Mitral valve: Allows blood to flow from your upper left chamber (or atrium) to the lower left chamber (or ventricle).

Aortic valve: Allows blood to flow out from the heart through the aorta (the main artery or pathway of your body).

When mitral or aortic valves become damaged or fail to work properly, balloon valvuloplasty may be a less-invasive way to successfully restore valve function.

How balloon valvuloplasty works

This common catheter-based procedure typically involves these steps:

  1. The patient is sedated for comfort.
  2. The cardiologist makes a small incision into an artery or vein in the groin.
  3. Then, the team inserts a catheter (a thin, hollow tube) and threads it through the artery to the heart and valve that is experiencing a problem.
  4. Once the catheter reaches the affected valve, the surgical team inserts a “balloon” through the catheter and threads it to the valve.
  5. The balloon is inflated, expanding the narrowed or damaged valve. This allows the blood flow to improve.

Most patients spend one night in the hospital after balloon valvuloplasty.

Signs and symptoms of heart valve issues

There are several ways heart valves can become damaged. These include:

  • Infection, such as staphylococcus
  • Wear and tear from normal aging
  • Defects present at birth (congenital abnormalities)

Only you and your doctor can decide if, based on your medical condition, balloon valvuloplasty is right for you. Be sure to consult with your primary care provider or cardiologist if you experience signs of heart valve disease, like:

  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations or a fluttering in the chest
  • Swelling/weight gain
  • Weakness, dizziness or general fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

We offer this procedure at our Portland location. If you would like to know more about balloon valvuloplasty or schedule an appointment, call us at 503-257-0959.

Interventional Cardiology

Learn more about how we approach interventional cardiology in a way that keeps you — and your heart — at the center of all we do.

Learn More